Blimey, I can’t believe we’re at Day 5 of my top 20 of 2014 countdown already. As always, I’m really enjoying putting this series together and getting all your feedback, whether you like my choices or whether you think I’m bonkers. It’s great fun. So, if it’s alright with you all, I think I shall continue.
Before I do though, here are the links to the previous four days:
Now, back to Day 5…
Talk about a change of pace. After a few days of extreme metal releases within my countdown, today I bring you something entirely different but equally as brilliant.
French duo of Neige and Winterhalter have, up to now, been best know for their post black metal output complete with plenty of bleak yet beautiful extremity. With this record however, Alcest have taken a somewhat different path.
If you listen carefully enough, there are hints of the post black metal elements of the band’s past. Crucially though, these are very subtle and fleeting as if merely tentative shy memories of what went before.
Instead, ‘Shelter’ offers the listener a much more chilled out and relaxed experience where Sigur Ros-esque shoegaze and ambient rock are the best descriptors.
What makes this album so special to me is the sheer depth and the aching beauty to what are, intrinsically, quite straightforward and uncomplicated compositions. Every single track on this record has something about it that touches a nerve with me and demands repeated listening. It might be a poignant melody line, it might be an overall feeling that’s conveyed or, despite being sung in French, it might be an emotionally charged vocal line. Such is it’s beauty, I feel compelled to take a listen at least once a week whatever else I have pressing in on my precious time.
Occasionally, the output does remind me of more mainstream acts such as Coldplay et al. As such, if the mainstream gave Alcest a chance, they’d no doubt win over many more fans. That being said, there’s one crucial difference between Alcest and the aforementioned.
Whereas the likes of Coldplay play at being deep, emotional and meaningful but end up sounding dull, forced and contrived, Alcest really mean it. The shoegaze approach might appear soft and soothing on the outside but dig deeper and ‘Shelter’ is a properly powerful album that tugs all the right strings, pushes all the right buttons and can reduce a grown man to tears. Make no mistake, this is the real deal.
If you’re interested in reading my lists from previous years, they follow a very similar format and can be accessed in full via the following links: